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Hidden Gems (Week 9)

Here we are again … WEEK 9, eh? Well, here’s four faves this week to get stuck in with – but this time, short and sweet tokens from my first thoughts on each. Enjoy! Catch the week prior below if you fancy a rewind of some sorts.

Dalmas

Laced with a certain charm and pizzazz to their music, Manc trio, Dalmas are out to set the record straight with the persona drummers get in a band – opting for the unique option of a drummer and a frontman in the same hot seat. Out from this intrepid line-up comes a feeling, that will not only tarnish the stereotypes of music line-ups for time to come – but will also no doubt, blow the bloody doors off to who ever listens to their exemplary catalogue so far.

Taxi With Strangers

Sheltering from those raining days with their music being a well-sought comfort blanket, Taxi With Strangers’ future in that scary music industry won’t be so bleak and miserable (unlike those rainy days.) Especially if they are continuing on their righteous path of big dreams and even bigger songs – TIME and Green Jacket drench us from head to toe in gleaming warmth and the thrills of a simpler time. Take me back to those rainy days, please.

Jellyfish in Space

Letting go and allowing yourself to float weightlessly among the marshmallow clouds is the best advice to give when listening to music from Jellyfish in Space. Atmospheric illusion filtrated with hypnotic bass lines and catchy hooks, they are out to push themselves aside from the usual in the industry, and provide a whole new meaning to “getting lost in the music.” So lost in fact, that we may well end up in space ourselves.

Imaginary Childhood Friend

The composer behind Imaginary Childhood Friend has a compulsive style that is deliberate and tentative in its making. Divulging in stories just with the grandeur of his piano, we are left to second-guess ourselves and interpret own version of events. For instance, the chaotic trills of the descending piano in “Gravity Always Wins” leaves me envisioning that we are always falling; but never winning. The simplicity – and yet complexity – of a solo piano always sees you walking away, feeling far more connected to it, than any other instrument can.

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Recents Stories? Yes please.

Don Broco – “Amazing Things” Album Review

Forever unique and diverse, the four-piece tribesman of Don Broco return with their 2018’s Technology follow-up of Amazing Things. Usually, after a relentless success-story of a prior album, bands often resort to bettering themselves and going an extra mile to achieve the almost-impossible feat to topping their previous. Unfortunately, this has not happened here quite […]

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes: ‘Sticky’ Album Review

Unapologetically chaotic, ‘Sticky‘ is a pressure release sharing talks on the dirty and the depraved during lockdown. With accommodating – and somewhat feral – guests, enter Frank’s town … if you dare. Carter and Co are back with their fourth studio album out of the door. Where their last album, End of Suffering was an […]

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Foo Fighters – ‘Medicine At Midnight’: Album Review

You still on the Foos hype? Foo Fighters produce follow-up to 2017’s Concrete and Gold – with little ambition.

Medicine At Midnight? More like Valium at Midnight, eh?

After Concrete and Gold in 2017, many fans were dubious upon their return – and they were absolutely right to be.

What Medicine At Midnight offers, is very little. Slotted in between their pre-released singles of Waiting on a War, Shame Shame and Making A Fire, are – quite frankly, lazy – songs that muddle within one another and become a rock assortment of confusion.

To be quite frank, a lot of fans – me included – did not have massively high expectations if Shame Shame and Waiting on a War were the singles they were promoting the album for. With these singles that never really got going, we were waiting for a repeat concoction that Concrete and Gold offered to us. That’s two albums now, have the Foos lost their spark?

Now, don’t get me wrong, you can’t expect the Foos to produce the same quality year-in, year-out as we saw in The Colour and the Shape and There is Nothing Left to Lose at the start of the band’s career, but most bands in the rock world, would certainly divert from the drib and drab of what Medicine At Midnight offers.

Making A Fire is the redeeming quality that blows the cobwebs away. Having the potential for the intro song for kicking off their tours when they return, I imagine the band wanted to pick up where they left off and trail-blaze throughout the album with the same satisfaction, but it slowly spirals into an abundance of sedated album fillers that never really get going. I even listened to them over and over again, trying to find something in it, but sometimes, we create our own heartbreaks through expectation.

I guess I could say the redeeming factor is the collective back-to-back of No Son of Mine and Holding Poison that work well together, where we see a presence of old Foos somewhere from the Wasting Light era. But other than that, there is nothing to write home about.

“Hallelujah, spread the news, but don’t believe the hype”

Making A Fire, Foo Fighters

Sorry Dave, I think I’ll take your advice with this one.

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The Downfall of Blink-182: What happened?

Matt Skiba, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker [from left] – Skiba joined the band after Tom Delonge’s departure in 2015.

From a person who dabbles in every plethora that pop-punk has to offer – including the sh*t Blink-182 are one of those bands that will remain iconic for 90s kids – either growing up with or listening back – as their chaotic tales of teen angst, women and sex is lovingly wrapped up in one loving spunky-punk burrito. With Enema of the State, Take off your Pants and Jacket and Neighbourhoods being the juicy toppings, they’re a worthy delicacy to our ears .. despite no one knowing what the band name actually means.

But, something keeps me Up All Night with this one. Amongst the continuous forums and streams of outrage from pop-punk worshippers, I happen to come across this question that I surprisingly and undoubtedly agreed with among my travels …

Are Blink-182 dead? Dammit, is it true? Of course, long gone are the days of Tom Delonge and American Pie, but I feel like everyone who was avid fans of Blink-182 – have either moved on or grown up – and seemingly left the band behind.

After the release of their ninth whack of cringe-awful teenage punk in one of the most un-original album names – NINE – it doesn’t seem to have a hair on the effervescent takes of Take Off your Pants and Jacket (jack it) in 2001 and its prologue of sexy-nurse Enema of the State two years prior. Maybe because their audience were actually still teenagers then. Huh. Like the now-Grandads of pop punk, it seems they’re still trying to keep up appearances and retain the novelty of an adolescent child screaming “f*ck off” to their mother who would simply never understand. But we’ve all gone on and grown up. How sad.

Of course, the material since 2016 simply does not have the spark or same rarity that is shone on the earlier projects. Without Tom, we are not receiving the pleasures of Delonge’s infamous vocal satire of pronouncing words longer than they have to be. The definitive favourite of I Miss You is not complete without his reverent WHERE ARE YOUUUUU that sets off his verse in the most thrilling of ways. It seems, unfortunately, that with his departure in 2015, so did the spark. Aside from the exploration of UFOs that Delonge embarked on, Delonge’s departure left a rather large hole within the band’s infrastructure. A supermassive black hole, you could say … and with Delonge’s other project of Angel & Airwaves not hitting the Mark, fans were left to Muse over the band’s future.

As always, Travis is the work-alcoholic that does everything in their power to continue the meteoritic rise of pop-punk. And with his fingers in so many drumming pies, he’s been doing that. Just not with Blink, it seems.

Where California in 2016, has somewhat of a feeling of prosperity with Bored to Death and She’s Out of Her Mind for which we saw the same in their self-titled in 2003, NINE 16 years later – 4 years after the departure of Delonge – is a slippery slope for any listener to endure, and is a tragic reminder that this band are now all in their 40s with kids. What’s My Age Again indeed. With a cover like sh*tting rainbows, it shows our worst fears in the band’s future direction.

Now with Barker confirming new plans in the horizon for the band in 2021, will we see the rinse-and-repeat formula of NINE or will we see remnants of old Blink coming through? Time will tell.

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Problems about the Music Industry – and how to fix them

Now, I want to take us away from the obvious problem for the industry right now, and discuss the ones that will were present before 2020 and will more likely be present after too.

I’ve heard that the music industry is a wonderful thing to work in. Once you get your connections right, the music industry provides ample opportunity, creativity and inspiration for its musicians and employees to earn while on the job. Or so I’ve been told.

Male-Dominated Industry

For years, it is not an uncommon fact that the industry has been considered as entirely male-orientated. From its festival line-ups, to the hiring tradition of stage crew and the persona of a woman doing a “man’s job”, the industry is rife with struggles from women in the industry and there are ample stories out there to suggest that.

There are closely run projects such as Artists Against Harassment and Vibe Excel, that inspire and provide the tools needed for the next generation of women in the music industry, not only support among platforms but to also help speak out, against the act of discrimination women have to go through.

Music and its Closed Door Ethos

Amongst industry professionals, they have been debunking this myth as nothing but … well, a myth. But, that may not be strictly true. The music industry has always had a feel of its not what you know, it’s who you know, – with those professionals themselves stressing the importance of contacts and connections amongst different varying sectors. Now, I may not the most viable of opinions as I’m looking at it from an outsiders’ perspective but, this may certainly be the case and sadly, poses this Closed Door ethos as true.

Artists’ Problem: Importance of Live Shows & Making Money (it is isn’t easy)

Ever since the Internet came about, the way we listen and purchase our music has changed. Downloads and streaming has outweighed the need for CDs – Spotify and Apple Music has become the new norm for relaxed and avid music consumers. This comes with problems, too of course.

How artists earn money has changed. With the royalty pay per listen at an all-time low as 0.01 to the penny or something ludicrous, artists are having to rely on live shows to make a living. With upcoming artists? This is an even bigger problem. The availability for upcoming artists to receive outreach for consistently common gigs is not common and so the money they receive for both live shows and physical copies is lacklustre.

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Fixing these problems?

Now, these problems are widely spoken about and pose problems for musicians and employers within the industry. But, there is a strength and unity within the industry from one another on overcoming these together. Once we work with one another, to overcome these problems, the industry may become even greater still.

Collectively standing against discrimination and we quash it.

Open up ourselves more to ‘outsiders’ who don’t have that strong a connection amongst others. Giving yourself to others to lend a helping hand to that struggling worker or musician.

Offering higher opportunity for artists on streaming services, and availability for live gigs.

You can start with some of the links below:

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Wizardry of The Weeknd: After Hours

The Dark Prince of Pop

“The Weeknd’s After Hours is a dark-twisted-fantasy concept album of the depictions and struggles in Abel Tesfaye’s (The Weeknd) love-hate relationships …

… and is trailblazing the return of 80s pop-synth to popular music all at the same time.

After The Weeknd was snubbed from the Grammys, I just had to invest my time into seeing what the fuss was all about.

I originally thought this was just a collective of good songs fit for radio – boy, how wrong was I. I may be a few months late but … as soon as I realised it was actually a concept album, I was instantly drawn in.

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“I’m losing my religion every day,
Time hasn’t been kind to me, I pray,
When I look inside the mirror and see someone I love … “

Faith, The Weeknd
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Said I’m heartless
Tryna be a better man, but I’m heartless
.”

Heartless, The Weeknd

The Concept

With popular singles such as ‘Your Eyes”, “Save Your Tears” and of course, “Blinding Lights” present within the album, After Hours paints a beautiful picture of regret, sorrow and shows the true dichotomy of love in all the twist and turns it tries to pull. This has been present through all of his work, and After Hours is the latest showing of that.

Painting tales in red and black, the full song run-through is the telling of a story – or rather, Abel’s version of a story – depicted from being Alone (yet) Again to contempt in Heartless until regret in Save Your Tears.

The Weeknd’s other music catalogues, Starboy and Beauty Behind The Madness show this push and pull story of emotion and the breaking of face but rather, in the more usual contemporary pop attempt. It certainly does not delve into the deep dark depths of what Abel goes through in After Hours.

Abel reflects an instant disdain for love and is aware of the repercussions when it goes wrong – and yet, constantly craves it. It is this state of disharmony and the back-and-forth taunting between himself that poses such a dark image on After Hours.

I would recommend playing it all the way through to get the full picture, of course. I mean, only if you want to. I understand the toll that takes on people’s attention spans nowadays.

Despite the design of the album seemingly taken straight from the mood-board of Stranger Things, the music itself is far more original and conceptual and slaps. (sorry)

Beauty Behind The Madness (2015)

Obviously I am not the only one who feels that this is Abel’s strongest piece of work to date, and his army of fans have come out to support it just so. This has become so adored by all, it has managed to rack up over 2 billion streams on Spotify.

I’d recommend watching Middle 8’s breakdown of the album in full-length, as it picks apart every song off of it in tremendous fashion.

G’won, don’t be shy to share your thoughts of the album in the comments!